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The In-Depth Guide to Cabin Mate Requests at Overnight Youth Camp

by Jesse GarnerPosted Apr 17, 2018

group of girls smiling at camera

What’s just as fun as coming to overnight youth camp? Coming to camp with a friend! Sometimes the easiest way to convince a camper who might be a little hesitant to come by themselves is to make sure they are in the same cabin as someone they already know. Understand the why already and just want the how-to? Skip to the end.

First, a little vocabulary. A cabin is a group of six to eight campers and a counselor that eat together, sleep in the same room, and go to activity classes together. Within a cabin there could be one or more cabin mate groups, but every camper is part of a cabin. Sometimes you might hear the word cluster or quad, which is a group of two to four cabins that share the same roof.

Plenty of campers (about 40%!) come without being part of a specific friend group, which is great! Camp is an amazing place to meet new friends and try new things in a safe environment. When we assign cabins, we are mindful of the number of cabin mate groups and the number of campers coming without a preset group. Balancing the needs of all our campers is important and a responsibility we take seriously.

To help balance these needs, and create cabin unity, we have two factors to consider regarding cabin mate groups:

  • Up to four campers can be part of a group
  • There can only be one grade difference between all the members

For example, Elliot is in fourth grade. He invites his fifth grade friend Hayden to be in his cabin mate group and Hayden accepts. Now there are fourth and fifth graders in this group. Elliot would like to invite his friends Justin (third grade), DJ (fourth grade), Eddie (fourth grade) and Hamilton (fourth grade). Elliot is a popular guy! Justin is in third grade, and the group cannot have both third and fifth graders, so Justin cannot be added. That leaves three fourth grade friends, but there are only two spots left in this cabin mate group, so Justin will need to decide which two of those three he will give his code to and invite to be part of his cabin mate group. He decides to invite Eddie and DJ.

Here’s the why behind these reasons: have you ever been the awkward third wheel on a date? Or traveled to an event and been the only one who didn’t know the others going? We work hard to build unity within the cabin over the course of the week and it’s hard to do that with one or two people left out. Capping our groups at four campers max makes sure that one group of friends doesn’t dominate the cabin experience.

In addition, the maturity differences between a third grader and a fifth grader can be large, which is a challenge to cabin unity. As grade gaps increase, so do the chances of bullying, for which we have no tolerance. So we limit cabin mate groups to a distance of just two grades.

From our scenario above, what about Hamilton? Will he ever get to see Elliot? Of course! Cabins go to activities together and eat meals together, but there are opportunities every day during camper’s choice and free time to see friends from other cabins.

We want every camper to have an amazing week and a huge part of their camp experience is their cabin community. Your camper will meet some new friends, grow closer to old friends, and bond with their cabin as they go through the week.

How to generate and use friend group codes

Cabin mate group requests must be completed by midnight on the Tuesday before the camp session starts.

Step 1: Generate a Code

Spider Man is coming to camp and he wants to be in the same cabin mate group as his friend Iron Man. After he logs in to his account, he finds the cabin mate request area in the optional forms section and clicks “edit.”

Spider Man is initiating this cabin mate group, so he leaves the “Create a Cabin Code” radio button selected, and then clicks on the “Create Cabin Code” button.

Spider Man now has a unique code for his cabin mate group. He’s listed as being in the group, and can choose to share that code with Iron Man however he wants. For convenience, he could put in Iron Man’s email address at the bottom to send that code to him, but Spider Man likes being fast, so he copies that code and texts it to Iron Man.

Halfway there!

Step 2: Input a Code

Iron Man got the code from Spider Man’s text and can’t wait to use it! He logs into his account ready to use his code, and clicks on “edit” in the Cabin Mate Requests section.

He clicks on the radio button to choose Enter a Cabin Code, then pastes the code into the box below. Then he clicks on the View Cabin Mates button.

This brings up an info screen showing that Spider Man is in the group. To finish, Iron Man clicks on the Request Cabin button.

Success! Iron Man can now see that he is in the same cabin mate group as Spider Man!

Iron Man or Spider Man can also now see that they are part of a group from the status screen.


Jesse Garner

Director of Camper Engagement

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